The Elements of Your Beta Package

There are many steps you can take to ensure your hardware test is successful and developing an efficient packaging procedure is a crucial one. There are tons of small decisions related to packaging your devices that can have a dramatic impact on your test.

For example, not including the right cord could leave your testers unable to use your product without a trip to Best Buy. Forgetting to include proper instructions can leave them confused and not knowing the first steps to take after they receive your device.

You need to make sure you include all of the right elements in your beta package so your testers have everything they need to begin testing your product. To get you started, here’s a list of essential items to include when you ship your next hardware product to your beta testers.

Packages Should Include:

  • The beta device – Make sure you measure the dimensions of your beta unit beforehand so you can order the correct shipping boxes. If your product involves multiple pieces of hardware (such as a dock or hub), measure all the pieces to make sure everything fits in the box.
  • Any required accessories – Most hardware devices require cords and chargers to work. When you send a tester your product, make sure to include all the necessary accessory items they will need to start using it right out of the box. If you’re testing internationally, send an adapter along with your product.
  • The right size box – After you know the dimensions of your device(s) and accessory items, it’s time to choose a box for your package. If you’re building a shipping process for a year-round beta program, buying cheaper “one size fits all” boxes in bulk could be the way to go. If you’re running a single beta test or one that is time sensitive, buying smaller quantities of boxes that are tailored to your specific beta unit can be a better option.
  • Packing peanuts – It’s likely your beta unit won’t fit perfectly into the box, so we recommend using biodegradable packing peanuts to fill the space. You don’t need to stuff the box with peanuts, just provide an extra layer of cushion in the event the package gets tossed around during shipping. If the unit arrives damaged you will lose valuable time retrieving that unit and sending the tester a new one, so it’s worth making sure your units are protected.
  • A welcome letter – Every package you send to a beta tester should have two pieces of paper in it. The first is a one-page letter welcoming them to the test. If your beta test isn’t too large, take the time to personally sign the welcome letter. This adds a special touch your testers will appreciate. Your welcome letter is also the place to include any initial instructions that can help your testers begin using your beta device properly.
  • A legal reminder – The second piece of paper you should include in your package is a legal reminder, outlining the legal obligations of your testers in plain English. This document should include a reminder that the beta device doesn’t belong to them, a list of the contents of the package, and a note that they must return all materials to you at the end of the test.
  • A return shipping label and envelope for the box – Even if you’re planning on letting your testers keep their beta units after the test is over, you should always include a return label and instructions in your initial package. If your testers start off assuming they’ll keep the unit, it could affect their participation. Instead, you want that to be a pleasant surprise in the end. Also, there is always the possibility that a tester will need to return their unit. If the tester finds a show-stopping bug during the beta test, you’ll need them to return the unit. If you have a lackluster, unresponsive, or even belligerent tester, you’ll want them to return their unit as well.

Taking the time to make sure your beta package includes everything your testers need to start testing will pay dividends throughout your test. Your testers can get started quickly and they’ll have a clear idea of what’s expected of them. If you want to know more about packaging best practices, check out The Beta Shipping Manual.

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